Posts Tagged ‘Jackson MS’

Colonel Jones Stewart Hamilton: The Train and the Tragedies

October 12, 2010




First Train Over the Gulf and Ship Island Road Started.


Building of New Mississippi Line to New Gulf Outlet Attended by Series of Fatalities — Killing of Gambrell by Colonel Jones S. Hamilton, The Adams – Martin Duel.

The first train over the new road to the gulf of Mexico — the Gulf and Ship Island — left Jackson, Miss., at 6:30 the other morning, reaching the terminus, Gulfport at 2 o’clock, says the Chicago Times-Herald. A number of state officials, together with officers of the road, made the trip. At Gulfport a banquet was given in the evening, and many speeches were made that predict a future for the new seacoast city. Gulfport is nothing more than a village now. At Jackson, the northern terminus, connection is made with the Illinois Central and the Alabama and Vicksburg branch of the Cincinnati Southern road. It is believed that the Gulf and Ship Island will eventually be extended to Memphis, and when that is done the expectation is that some of the grain trade of the northwest will be sent abroad via Gulfport.



Gulf and Ship Island Railroad - 1903


The road passes through a section of the state that is new to civilization. Many of the inhabitants along its line had never seen a locomotive engine until the work trains appeared and awakened echoes from the hills which had heretofore caught only the cries of the wildcat, the dying groans of feudists and the piercing crack of the huntsman’s rifle. The road passes through a portion of Jones county, which seceded from the Confederacy during the civil war and set up an independent government. It traverses Wayne county, which has fewer Bibles per capita than any other county in the nation. It splits Green county almost in twain, and some of the roadbed is made of dirt on which the notorious Murrell and Copeland gang of murderers and outlaws made their rendezvous for a decade.



The road opens to the lumber trade a virgin pine forest. It is estimated that within the next five years more than 1,000,000,000 feet of timber will go to the north on cars hauled by this new line. The land adjacent is favorable for raising fruits and grapes, but it has never been cultivated. Not a painted house is to be seen between Jackson and Gulfport. The inhabitants for the most part have existed among themselves without having come in contact with the outside world. The road will make the work of the revenue agent less perilous. Illicit distilleries have flourished for years unmolested in much of the territory because officers have been afraid to penetrate its ravines, hollows and hillsides.


Jones S. Hamilton


The history of this road has been attended by more tragic deaths than that of any other enterprise started in the south since the civil war. Twenty-five years ago Colonel Jones S. Hamilton married one of the belles of Mississippi, Miss Fanny Buck. Their first child was a son, and he was named for his father, John S. Jr. On the day of the child’s baptism Colonel Hamilton said to his wife that he would build a railroad, that his heir might become its president when he had attained his majority. Colonel Hamilton selected the terminal point, and Mrs. Hamilton gave Gulfport its name. Twenty-four hours after the last spike had been driven which made the road complete between these two points Jones S. Hamilton, Jr., was killed by the cars in the yards at Jackson. That was a few weeks ago. Colonel Hamilton still holds an interest in the railway company, and it was his son’s aim to escort a number of his young friends to Gulfport on the train the other day.

Instead his grave received new flowers from those he expected to entertain.

In 1884, after a survey of the road had been made, Colonel Hamilton interested Chicago capital in pushing the road to completion. At the time he was lessee of the state penitentiary, a state senator, chairman of the executive committee of the Democratic party and the wealthiest man in the state. His home, Belhaven, was the most magnificent in the country. It sat on an eminence two miles from the statehouse and contained 600 acres in flower yards, tennis courts and fishing pools.

His reputation for lavish hospitality was known throughout the south.




In his political affairs Colonel Hamilton encountered the bitter opposition of John H. Martin, a descendant of Chief Justice John Marshall; T. Dabney Marshall, a literary and art critic, and Roderick Dhu Gambrell, who were the leaders of the prohibition movement. Bitter personalities were exchanged, and Hamilton was challenged by Gambrell to fight a duel. Attacks on Colonel Hamilton continued, and in May, 1886, he and Gambrell met on the bridge which divides East from West Jackson. There were no eyewitnesses to what followed, but when the crowd got to the place, having been attracted by shots, Gambrell was dead, and Hamilton was seriously wounded.

The affair caused great excitement. There was talk of lynching Hamilton, and the residents, about evenly divided between the factions, came so near to a clash that a call for the militia was necessary. Meantime Gambrell’s picture was being sold throughout the civilized world. Boxes of them were shipped to Australia and to Africa. Miss Frances E. Willard started a subscription for the purpose of assisting the prosecuting fund.

After spending a year in prison Colonel Hamilton was acquitted, his release being celebrated by a remarkable demonstration of rejoicing, in which Hamilton was brought into the city in a carriage drawn by 100 prominent residents. The week before the end of the trial, however, General Wirt Adams and John H. Martin killed each other under most sensational circumstances as the result of the proceedings. General Adams had testified to Colonel Hamilton’s good character and was attacked by Martin in his paper. Adams and a friend went to Marin’s office. The offensive article was pointed out, and Martin said he was responsible for its appearance — in fact, had written it.

“Then are you armed?” asked General Adams. Martin said he was not. Pulling out his watch, General Adams replied: “It is now 10:35. I will give you until 11 o’clock.” Martin ran for his home, four blocks away, while Adams took a position across the street from Martin’s office. Ten — 25 minutes passed. Then Martin showed himself around the corner. Adams advanced to meet him. When the two were within 40 feet of each other, they began firing. The first bullet struck Martin in the thigh and knocked him down. General Adams continued advancing. Martin had recovered from the stun and was firing with deliberate aim. At the third shot from Adams’ pistol Martin fell backward, mortally wounded.

Adams had one ball remaining, and he walked to where his enemy lay and looked down at him. Martin, too, had one bullet in his pistol. Meantime General Adams had been untouched. Two shots rang out simultaneously, and General Adams fell, his face striking the pit of Martin’s stomach. When the officers reached the spot, both were dead. Colonel Hamilton came out of jail with his vast estate heavily incumbered. A government land grant made to the road had been forfeited, but this was recovered through the efforts of Secretary James G. Blaine, to whom Hamilton had gone to school in Kentucky.

A little while after Hamilton killed Gambrell, a railroad tie contractor of the name of Purvis killed a man of the name of McDonald, was convicted and sentenced to be hanged. On the scaffold Purvis denied his guilt. When the know was adjusted and the trap sprung, the rope slackened, and instead of Purvis being suspended in the air he fell to the ground. In the excitement  the execution was delayed, and on Purvis’ claim that he could not be resentenced because he already had been legally hanged the case became one of the most noted in the history of the state. Purvis eventually was pardoned, and he is now in the woods along the line of the Gulf and Ship Island railroad getting out bridge timber.

Active work on the Gulf and Ship Island was resumed five years ago. About the time it seemed certain that it would be pushed to completion Colonel Hamilton fell down his steps, receiving wounds which practically have made him helpless ever since. He is little better than an invalid.

Gulfport is on something of a boom. The harbor is a natural one and will require little money from the national government. It is almost midway between Mobile and New Orleans and is touched also by the Louisville and Nashville railroad. The fact that it is the terminal of the Gulf and Ship Island will make it an important lumber shipping point for years to come. Many sawmills, canning factories, storehouses and residences are already in the course of construction.

Sandusky Daily Star (Sandusky, Ohio) Sep 5, 1900

The image and a biography of Jones S. Hamilton can be found on Google at the following link:

Title: Mississippi: Contemporary Biography
Volume 3 of Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form, Dunbar Rowland
Editor: Dunbar Rowland
Publisher: Reprint Co., 1907
pg 311

Read more about the Gambrell incident in my previous post, Roderick D. Gambrell: Death of a Hip Pocket Reformer.

Roderick D. Gambrell: Death of a Hip Pocket Reformer

October 11, 2010

Those temperance folks just didn’t know when to mind their own business; in fact, they made everyone’s business their own. And sometimes it cost them dearly. This is a separate, yet somewhat related incident to the Wirt Adams / John H. Martin double death duel — See link at bottom of post.

A Coroner’s Investigation.

JACKSON, Miss., May 7.

The Coroner’s Jury was still engaged up to 12 o’clock to-day investigating the killing of Roderick Gambrill, editor of the Sword and Shield, by Colonel Jones S. Hamilton, general manager of the Gulf & Ship railroad, in the difficulty occurring about 10 o’clock last night. No facts have yet been obtained, other than that the parties met and began firing. The difficulty has been feared and anticipated for some time, owing to an offensive personal article by Gambrill concerning Hamilton in his newspaper some weeks ago. Gambrill’s wounds, three in number, proved fatal in a few minutes. The result of Hamilton’s two wounds are uncertain. He now rests comparatively easy.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) May 7, 1887

An Inquest — Jury’s Verdict.

JACKSON, Miss., May 9.

The jury in the inquest case of R.D. Gambrell, editor of the [Sword and Shield,] who was shot and killed late Thursday night by Col. Jones S. Hamilton, the lessee of the Penitentiary, adjourned at 11:30 last night after two days almost continuous session. They rendered a verdict as follows: “We, the jury of inquest in the case of the death of Roderick Gambrell, find that he came to his death from a pistol shot and wounds inflicted by the hands of Jones S. Hamilton, as principal, and others as abettors, unknown to the jury.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada) May 9, 1887

THE blood of many abolitionists as well as myriads of slaves cried to the Lord from the ground before the curse of slavery was wiped out. Myriads of victims of the saloon curse have been uttering their cry for many years, to which is now being added the voice of the blood of prohibitionists. Not many months ago Rev. Haddock was foully assassinated at Sioux City, Iowa. A few weeks ago, Dr. Northrup fell in the same way in Ohio. Last week Roderick Gambrell, of Jackson, Miss., editor of a Prohibition paper at that place, was set upon and foully murdered by some of those whose wrath he had stirred up. “Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.” Evidences point to the speedy destruction of the rum curse.

The Delta Herald (Delta, Pennsylvania) May 20, 1887


The Embers of a Tragedy Vigorously Fanned by Partisan Journals.

Special Dispatch to the Globe-Democrat.

JACKSON, Miss., June 28. – The excitement attending the Hamilton-Gambrell tragedy and the trial succeeding had abated considerably until within the last few days, when it seems to have received fresh impetus. The Daily Advertiser of this city, a strong Hamilton paper, is filled every morning with editorial matter favorable to Hamilton, and its editor has very severely criticized the New Mississippian and the Sword and Shield, the latter being the dead editor’s paper, and both strong advocates of Gambrell and the assassination theory. The last few issues of the Advertiser have contained much personal matter derogatory to the character of the father of the editor of the Mississippian and urging that it stood the taxpayers in hand to take some action regarding the utterances of the Mississippian and Sword and Shield, and claiming that they were greatly injuring the city’s prosperity by conveying the impression that misrule was the order of the day and that Jackson was an unsafe place in which to live. A recent issue contains a card signed “Tax-payer,” suggesting a meeting of tax-payers and citizens of Jackson to express condemnation of the course of the Sword and Shield and the New Mississippian, stating:

That their repeated misrepresentations of our people is depreciating the value of our property, damaging business, hindering accessions to our population and even driving our own people away.

The Advertiser indorses the suggestion of “Taxpayer,” editorially, and says:

The patience of this people is well-nigh exhausted and the course pursued by the Gambrellites and Martinites will not be endured much longer.

The New Mississippian of today contains a strong editorial on the proposed meeting, and says:

But we warn them now that all the indignation meetings they may hold, all the sympathizers they may gather here from other places, and all the threats they may make not to tolerate the course of this paper, will not avail. The writer believes in peace, but not when it must be purchased at the price of manhood and self-respect, and if to maintain these and pursue the path of duty, which we have marked out before us, we must encounter the violence at which they hint, we shall encounter it regretfully, but without hesitation. We have no desire for a life saved by an ignoble silence or an unmanly turning aside from a righteous cause.

IT also contains a card from J.B. Gambrell, father of the slain editor, in which he states that since the death of his son he has mainly controlled the columns of the Sword and Shield, and has sought to discharge the duty in a conservative spirit. The card concludes:

The threats above made by the Advertiser, which voices Colonel Hamilton and his friends, will not in the least terrorize the Sword and Shield so long as I control it. The time has come for a manly stand for the freedom of the press and right. It is a crisis in our affairs as a people, and now, in full view of all it may mean to myself and my family, I solemnly declare that before the sword and shield shall fail to do its duty in this crisis, I will submit to die as my son died, and he by his side in the quiet graveyard at Clinton, leaving my family in the care of God and the vindication of justice and the punishment of assassins in the hands of my countrymen. I await the issue calmly. If the threats of the Advertiser are carried out, it will be by that element which has so long ruled this city, and it will add another chapter to the bloody records of the city, but it will not silence the press of the Mississippian nor impede reform.

The publications have stirred up the excitement again, and from present appearances it will continue until this remarkable trial is finally disposed of by the courts. The last three issues of the paper named, have little in them except the views of the editors on the case, expressed in the most forcible English. Colonel Hamilton is still in jail, and seems to take a bright view of his prospects. Circuit court is now in session, but until the grand jury takes action it is not known whether his case and those of the accessories will be tried at the present term or not.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Jul 2, 1887

THE MEMPHIS APPEAL has started a subscription list for a monument to young Gambrell, who was killed by Hamilton during the prohibition campaign in Jackson, Miss. The Appeal refers to Gambrell as “the martyr editor,” and heads the list of subscribers to his monument with $100.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Jul 10, 1887

Hip Pocket Reformers.

The newspapers of the southwest are till fighting out the Hamilton-Gambrell difficulty, notwithstanding the fact that the former is in jail waiting to be tried for murder.

The Memphis Appeal fell into line with the friends of Gambrell, and denounced Hamilton and other Mississippi state officials as a gang of ringsters.

But the Appeal was destined to receive a rude shock. It was praising the Gambrells as the apostles of law and order and reform, when to its unutterable surprise Perry Gambrell, of the Sword and Shield, and John Martin, of the New Mississippian, went to the office of the Jackson Advertiser and proposed a street fight with the Lowds.

To do the Appeal justice it turned about and proceeded to abuse Gambrell for this outrageous business as vigorously as it had heretofore praised him. This does not satisfy the Vicksburg Herald and it jumps upon its Memphis contemporary in the following fashion:

It has found out that they are not what it thought them; may it not also have been deceived by them as to the Hamilton case? Is it not probable that the other Gambrell resembled the living one and was also ready to shoot it out? Although his brother died as recently as the fifth of May, Percy Gambrell went with John Martin to aid him in “shooting it out with the Lowds.” Is it not probable that Percy Gambrell is just as good as his brother was, when he went about with his 38-calibre in his pocket? Of course if Percy Gambrell had been killed he might have gone straight to Paradise to shoot Paradisacal things, but our esteemed Memphis contemporary will admit, that we must treat of them as mortals until they are Saints. As a mortal, is not Percy Gambrell in exactly the same boat with John Martin, and would not R.D. Gambrell have been in the same boat with them, if alive?

We think so. We also think it will be a cold day before any very expensive monument is erected to R.D. Gambrell. We are convinced the Appeal is by this time very sorry it contributed to the Gambrell monument.

While the Gambrells and Martins will now be known as sensational frauds, it may be some consolation to them to know their standing among gentlemen has not been lessened, for they never had any.

It is useless to answer the Herald by calling it a Hamilton paper. Such men as Bishop Hugh Miller Thompson have spoken up for Hamilton so stoutly that it will not do to denounce his friends as ringsters and outlaws. The man can not be as black as he had been painted.

The facts all go to show that the Gambrells, the dead one and his brother Percy, must be classed with those doubtful reformers who believe in trotting about with pistols in their hip pockets, ready to fight it out whenever their opponents get tired of being called corruptionists, ringsters and other hard names. It is a tangled piece of business, with so many side issues, that it is difficult to get a clear view of it all. We do not feel like using harsh language about reformers. The mere fact that a man declares himself a reformer gives him many disagreeable privileges, but it seems to us that the reformer with a loaded hip pocket ought to be suppressed. There is nothing angelic about him, and when he gets shot in a row, brought on by himself, we fail to see anything martyr-like in it. The fact is, a reformer should mind his own business and behave himself.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Jul 20, 1887

Another Chapter in a Famous Case.

The decision of the supreme court of Mississippi admitting Eubanks to bail and holding Hamilton in jail until his trial, recalls one of he most deplorable tragedies of the year.

In the month of May Roderick Dhu Gambrell was editing a prohibition paper at Jackson. During the wet and dry campaign Gambrell made a number of publications seriously reflecting upon the character of Colonel J.S. Hamilton, a prominent politician on the anti side. One night the two men met, and after exchanging several shots Gambrell fell dead, while Hamilton escaped with one or two painful wounds. The prohibitionists took the position that Hamilton and Eubanks had waylaid the editor and assassinated him. Public meetings were held, and strong efforts were made to influence public sentiment. The trial of the defendants was postponed until a more convenient season, and the court below refused to allow them to be bailed.

After a careful review of all the facts in the case, the supreme court has decided that Hamilton is not entitled to bail, but that Eubanks may be allowed that privilege. In delivering the decision the court stated that it was not satisfied as to the number of persons who participated in the murder of Gambrell, but it was satisfied that Hamilton was the assailant. One of the judges dissented from this opinion and expressed a doubt of Hamilton’s guilt.

Altogether, the action of the court was about as favorable to Hamilton as he had any right to expect. His alleged accomplice was allowed to give bail, and one member of the court placed himself on record as entertaining a reasonable doubt of the chief defendant’s guilt. This will have the effect of dividing public sentiment, and when the case comes before a jury it is to be hoped that an earnest effort will be made to get at the truth and carry out the ends of justice.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Nov 24, 1887

THE TRIAL OF Colonel Hamilton at Brandon, Miss., for the murder of Young Gambrell will begin its seventh week to-morrow. Some of the witnesses for the defense are doing the tallest kind of swearing. No trouble is anticipated as the judge has notified the spectators and witnesses that they must not bring deadly weapons into the courthouse.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Apr 1, 1888

The jury in the case of J.S. Hamilton, on trial at Brandon, Miss., for the killing of Roderick Dhu Gambrell, in Jackson, Miss., returned a verdict of not guilty.

The Marion Daily Star (Marion, Ohio) Apr 20, 1888

WHEN THE HON. J.S. HAMILTON killed young Gambrell in Mississippi a great outcry was raised and the killing was called a murder. The acquittal of Colonel Hamilton after a trial lasting nearly two months will perhaps convince some people that there were two sides to the case.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Apr 23, 1888


Jones S. Hamilton



Whose Long Trial Has Brought Him Into Notice.

MEMPHIS, Tenn., April 23 — [Special] — Colonel Jones S. Hamilton, who has become notorious by having undergone one of the longest trials in the history of Mississippi, and was acquitted last Thursday of the charge of having murdered Rhoderick D. Gambrell, on the night of May last year, was in the city today. He held quite a levee at the Peabody hotel. A great number of his friends and newspaper men called on him. He remarked to one of the latter that he had given four years of his life defending the confederacy and one year to the defense of himself and he was glad it was over. He was a great surprise in personal appearance, and demeanor to all who say him. He is anything but a ferocious looking terror. He is as mild as a south Mississippi breeze and as polite as a Chesterfield, and not much bigger than a minute.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Apr 24, 1888


A Mob Severely Beats a Witness in the Hamilton-Gambrell Case.

NEW ORLEANS, April 24. — A Times-Democrat Clinton, Miss., special says:

A report of a whipping committed Sunday night has been received here and the promise of speedy death prevented a party from making it known sooner. At about midnight  eleven masked men went to the house of Ellis Young, a witness for the defense in the Hamilton cases called him out, tied to him a rope and then severely beat him.

He was told that he was whipping for lying for lying about Roderick Gambrell. Presenting pistols at his head, they demanded to know what amount he was paid for testifying against Gambrell. With death staring him in face, he declared that he did not receive a cent. The mob then released him, and ordered him to leave the county within three days. Young recognized one of his assailants as a divinity student at the Mississippi college.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) Apr 25, 1888

A Tragedy Taken to Court.

MEMPHIS, Tenn., July 14 — The Hamilton-Gambrell tragedy had broken out in a new place. Col. James S. Hamilton has brought suit in the United States court here before Judge Hammond for $50,000 damages against The Memphis Appeal company, and has engaged two of the leading legal firms of the city to prosecute it. Col. Hamilton, it will be remembered, was one of the Mississippi penitentiary lessees. The Appeal referred to Col. Hamilton as a depraved “murderer,” an “assassin,” a “conspirator,” “the boss of a gang of corruptionists;” that said voluntary and vindictive work of defendant contributed in a large degree to working up and manufacturing public sentiment against him.

The Daily News (Frederick, Maryland) Jul 14, 1888




The Story of a Bloody and Terrible Duel Recalled — James Hamilton’s Fight With Gambrell

Colonel Jones S. Hamilton, of Jackson, Miss., is the survivor of the most desperate personal encounter of our time. Hamilton is barely five feet six inches in height, but very compactly built and of surprising muscular strength. He is not a quarreling man at all, being, on the contrary, devoted to the peaceful art of money-making. Besides that, he is nearly, if not quite, 50 years, and since his marriage in 1878 or 1879, of conspicuously domestic habits.

Some tow or three years ago, however, says a correspondent of the N.Y. [Tribune,] the Prohibition party, which, in Mississippi at least, is composed largely of, if not practically identical with, the Baptist Church, undertook to launch a propaganda of special and peculiar violence. They began through their newspapers, and, having in this way and by pulpit fulmination lashed public sentiment into something very like fury, they bore down on the Legislature in great numbers.

Colonel Hamilton was at that time a member of the Mississippi Senate, a straight-out, old-fashioned Democrat in his political and an Episcopalian in his religious practice. Being a strong man, a popular man, and a legislator of force and influence, he was naturally the object of the Prohibition efforts, first by persuasion and importunity, afterward by threats and denunciation. Among the means employed to coerce Colonel Hamilton, or, failing in that, to destroy his influence by detraction and aspersion, was a paper issued in Jackson and edited by a young man named Roderick Gambrell. The paper was an organ of the movement, and its editor was the son of a Baptist preacher who figured in the vanguard of the crusade. For weeks the paper reeked with abuse of Colonel Hamilton, aspersing his character, attacking his honor, denouncing his motives and his acts until the man’s very home was rendered miserable, and his friends began to wonder whether he had not endured more than enough.

At last the tragedy culminated, but under such circumstances of mystery as lent it a strange and fearful horror. One night, about 10 o’clock, immediately after the arrival of the southbound train of the Illinois Central Railroad, Colonel Hamilton started homeward from the depot in a hack, which had been sent to meet him. The town proper lies half a mile or more to the east, and it is the general custom of residents to cover the distance in a vehicle. Gambrell had arrived by the train;but had left the depot immediately on foot, and those who were lingering about the platform and who knew the parties thought there was no danger of a collision, at least that night. A few hundred feet from the depot, going toward town, there is a bridge, and as the loiterers at the station heard Hamilton’s hack rattling over the resounding wooden structure they turned with sighs of relief to disperse to their homes. Suddenly, however, a shot rang out from the direction of the bridge. The hack was heard to stop, and there was a sound as of some one jumping from it. Then another shot and another and then the hack started off at a furious pace, the terrified driver lashing his horses to their top speed. were the antagonists separated? No; the firing began again, and for a few moments assumed the magnitude almost of a fusilade. And now other, and still more dreadful sounds were heard — the sounds of furious men locked in a death-struggle, beating and tearing at each other’s throats and faces like two madmen.

NOTE: This one section was of poor quality and difficult to read:

Scores of people had by this time gathered, but none dared go too near. They hung a?????? on the outer rim of the darkness ???……. piercing cries had faded into silence and the last groan had died away did the listeners find courage to approach, only to find Grambrell lying dead; and Hamilton dead, too, as they thought, lying across the corpse. They were drenched in each other’s blood, both bore frightful wounds, and they had torn and beaten each other with horrible fury until insensibility overtook them.

It was a strange trial — a trial without witnesses to the fact. Nobody knew the details except the one survivor, who lay for weeks hovering between life and death.

Cambridge City Tribune (Cambridge City, Indiana) Feb 13, 1890

The rest of the Roderick D. Gambrell biography (written by the anti-liquor crusaders, so not biased at all) can be read online:

Title: The Passing of the Saloon: an authentic and official presentation of the anti-liquor crusade in America
Editor: George M. Hammell
Publisher: F.L. Rowe, 1908
Pages 123-125

Jones Stewart Hamilton biography can be read online in the following book:

Title: Mississippi: Contemporary Biography
Volume 3 of Mississippi: Comprising Sketches of Counties, Towns, Events, Institutions, and Persons, Arranged in Cyclopedic Form
Editor: Dunbar Rowland
Publisher    Reprint Co., 1907
Page 311

This incident is also mentioned in the following book:

Title: Editors I Have Known Since the Civil War: (rewritten and reprinted from letters in the Clarion-ledger)
Author: Robert Hiram Henry
Published: 1922
Pages 134-135 Hamilton-Gambrell
Pages 135-137Adams-Martin

My previous post about the Wirt Adams-John H. Martin incident.

The Double Death Which Disgraced Mississippi

October 5, 2010


Which Disgraced Mississippi Last Tuesday.

The Fatal Meeting Between General Wirt Adams and Mr. John H. Martin — The Cause of the Tragedy.

VICKSBURG, Miss., May 3. –[Special] — A Jackson, Miss., special gives full details of the tragedy of last Tuesday. The tragedy occurred there about 2:15 p.m. General Wirt Adams, postmaster, and one of the most distinguished citizens of the state, and John H. Martin,, editor of the New Mississippian, met in deadly combat on President street near the corner of Amite. Martin had published General Adams in several personal squibs in his paper for some weeks past, to which General Adams paid no attention. The issue of the New Mississippian, today contained another and severe personal article against him and is supposed to be the direct cause of today’s tragedy.

They met at the time and place above stated, General Adams going north and Martin south.

Mr. Farish, who was walking with General Adams, says that as they approached each other General Adams accosted Martin and said, in effect: “You damn rascal, I have stood enough from you,” and Martin replied, “If you don’t like it,” simultaneously with the remark he drew his pistol and commenced firing and got behind a large china tree on the outer edge of the pavement, two and a half feet in diameter. General Adams also fired about the same time, but Farish, thought not certain, thinks that Martin shot first.

Mr. Thomas Helm, Jr., who was sitting at his window just across the street, immediately opposite the scene of the conflict, some sixty feet distant, says “that he was looking out of the window south and saw General Adams and Farish coming up the street. They passed his line of vision and on hearing a shot he looked around and saw Martin on his knees behind the tree, and he heard him cry out and saw him fire at General Adams, and the general walking around the tree to get at him and firing at the same time. Martin scrambled to a little south of the tree and continued firing. General Adams reached the north side of the tree, following Martin, when he fell.”

Both died in less than one minute. Martin said to those who first reached the scene: “I am dead,” and died immediately. General Adams never spoke. General Adams had but one wound and that was directly through the heart. Martin was shot in the right breast, two and three-quarter inches left of the right nipple and in the upper part of the right leg, breaking the thigh bone. There was also a bullet hole in his hand. Both men used Colt’s six-shooters, Martin a forty-one calibre and Adams a forty-four. All the shells in Martin’s pistol were exploded. Three shells in General Adam’s were exploded, and one gave evidence of having been snapped upon, but failed to fire. Two of the shells were intact.

The following are the publications which are supposed to have led to the difficulty:

The New Mississippian, of March 27th, alluding to the Hamilton trial, then in progress in Brandon, said in effect: “General Wirt Adams, a witness for the defense, testified as to Hamilton’s character. The general ought to remember that character, like charity, should begin at home.”

Again, on April 3: “Nellie Dinkins’s testimony for the state has been impeached, but she has this advantage of General Wirt Adams, a witness for the defense. She never gave certificates and was forced, after they had been published a year, to admit they were utterly false.” And again, today: “People who do not receive the New Mississippian regularly will please remember that since we exposed the obliquy of General Wirt Certificate Adams, the postoffice is endeavoring to wreak its spite against the paper in every possible way. This paper has to be in the postoffice about a half or an hour sooner than the republican paper here, or it is made to lay over for another mail. It is strange how mad some men get when the plain truth is told about them in print, and yet this paper is feeling remarkably well.”

An untold gloom hangs over and the deepest sorrow pervades this community in consequence of this terrible tragedy.

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 4, 1888

NOTE: This article on the Red Manifest is a bit confusing. I only found one more source mentioning it, and that source states that Wirt Adams was thought to have been the author, not John H. Martin.


Editor John H. Martin, Killed in the Street Duel at Jackson, Miss., Said to Have Been Its Author.

NEW YORK, May 3. — The Sun’s Washington special says that John H. Martin, the editor who was killed in the street duel with General Wirt Adams, the postmaster at Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, was the author of the “Red Manifesto,” issued last December, and which first conveyed to the colored people of Jackson the notice that they would not be allowed to vote at the election held on the first Monday in January. The manifesto is in evidence before the Senate judiciary committee in connection with the investigation of the alleged suppression of votes of the colored citizens of Jackson. It is printed in large type, in blood-red ink, an at the head is displayed an engraving of two pistols, two shotguns and a powder flask.

Saturday Herald (Decatur, Illinois) May 5, 1888



Funeral Services Over the Remains of General Wirt Adams and John H. Martin — Additional Evidence to the Killing — Another Attack.

[From the New Orleans Pleayune Special.]

Jackson, Miss., May 2. — Jackson yesterday evening and last night was a seething cauldron of excitement. The mortal combat of both Martin and Adams was the entire theme of conversation. Business was practically suspended and groups of men stood on the streets discussing the sad an sudden demise of those two gentlemen.

Thee were threats passed to and from the friends and sympathizers of both sides and considerable apprehension was felt. Cooler heads reasoned, however, and are triumphant so far in


between the two factions. It may come, though, any moment. There is a perceptible feeling of bitterness on both sides today, greater than last night.
There were but few transactions of business, and the state house was deserted. The entire city was in gloom. There were great crowds of ladies and gentlemen all of to-day carrying beautiful bouquets of flowers to the residences of hte unfortunate victims of the deadly bullets. Messages of condolence crowded the wires from sympathetic friends abroad.


of Jno. H. Martin were held at the Methodist Episcopal church at 3 o’clock this evening. The coffin was of handsome mahogany and was covered with the choicest and most delicate flowers. The last tribute that Dr. C.G. Andrews, the minister, could pay to his dead friend was beautiful and touching. His remains were carried from the church to the south-bound Illiniois Central train at 5 o’clock, and thence to Brookhaven, the place of his birth, followed by several of his friends, where he was interred this evening in the little cemetery to the north of the town. The following were the pallbearers: W.D. Ratliff, C.H. Alexander, Professor L.A. Wyatt, Harry Brown and John Lizor.

The funeral services of the loving husband and father of several children and that noble gentleman,


was the largest seen in Jackson for several years. Almost every carriage and buggy in the city was in the procession which followed the remains from his home to the Episcopal church, Rev. William Short, the rector, officiating. The church was packed with the best people of the country. The services were short and impressive. Truly there was no man whom Jackson loved more than General Adams. The pallbearers were Governor Lowry, Jude T.J. Wharton, E. Voreten, G.C. Eyerich, J.S. Hamilton, Marcellus Green, Geo. Lemon, and Oliver Clifton. Strangely enough the same hearse which conveyed Martin’s body to the train also bore General Adams’ body; and then, too, both were compelled to cross the bridge that one year ago on the 5th of this month was the scene of the tragedy in which Jones S. Hamilton killed R.D. Gambrell, the special friend of Martin, and that homicide was a sequel to the terrible on of yesterday.


The terrible affair was not entirely unexpected. The New Mississippian has been characteristically bold and scathing in its criticisms of General Adams. The first attack was in connection with the late exciting city election, when the paper charged that General Adams would either vote for McGill or vote a folded ticket. Then he was sharply criticised with regard to his recent testimony in the late Hamilton-Gambrell case and the certificates given the lessees of the penitentiary.

It is said that General Adams had restrained himself, fearing that any too early movement might prejudice the interests of his friend Hamilton. And then yesterday the New Mississippian contained another scathing and sarcastic article, which the intrepid and restless general could not stand, and his fury could not be appeased until he had seen Martin.

The Clarion-Ledger will to-morrow contain the following statement of two eyewitnesses:


says: I was sitting at the second window in my room Tuesday evening, probably a little after 2 o’clock, looking eastward across President street. Saw General Wirt Adams and Mr. Ned Farish turn the corner at the Cartwaliader residence, southwest corner of President and Amite streets. They passed up President street northward on the west side of the pavement, and had barely got beyond the range of my vision when I heard a shot. I then got up and looked in the direction the noise came from and saw Mr. John Martin on his knees with his pistol in his hand firing, or in the act of firing. Martin was two or three feet north of the large china tree, and seemed to be behind it. General Adams was on the south side of the tree, probably six or eight feet from it, the tree being between Martin and Adams. Both men were firing and General Adams came from the sidewalk into the street. Martin bearing around to the west side of the tree struggled to his feet and got on the southwest side of the tree, General Adams having gotton on the north side. They were


all the time they were reversing positions. Don’t know how many shots were fired or how many each party fired. The firing was very deliberate. Heard some cry of agony that I thought came from Martin. After Martin had got out on the south side of the tree he lunged forward toward the east and fell just off the sidewalk into the street all doubled up. Adams, who was then behind the tree on the north side, seemed to ease down slightly and suddenly fell backward, apparently dead. The bodies were not more than five feet apart. I don’t think either party fired after being down, as both seemed disabled when they struck the ground. Did not see anything more of Farish till he was assisting to take the body of General Adams to witness residence. Asked if a doctor had been sent for, when Mr. Farish said

“There is no need for a doctor for he is dead.”

Saw only one wound in General Adams’ body, which seemed to be just above the region of the heart. After the body of Adams had been taken to his house friends of Martin started homeward with his body. Saw nobody engaged in the shooting but Adams and Martin. Did not see the first shot.


As seen from the foregoing statement of Mr. Helm General Adams was accompanied by Mr. Ned Farish. Mr. Farish is reported as stating that as General Adams and Mr. Martin approached each other the former addressed the latter in substantially the following words:

“You damned rascal, I have stood enough from you,” and to which Martin replied: “If you don’t like it,” at the same time drawing his pistol, he fired, says Mr Farish, and got behind a large china tree on the outer edge of the pavement. About the same time General Adams also fired. Farish, however, though not certain, thinks Martin fired first.

An examination of the wounds showed that General Adams was shot in the heart, the ball entering the collar bone. Mr. Martin was shot in the right breast, 2?/? inches to the left of right nipple, and 1 1/4 inches below a line drawn between the right and left nipple; in the right thigh (10)? inches below the thigh joint, which broke the thigh bone; marked on the right elbow with a ball and skin bruised, but flesh not entered; a bullet hole was also in his hat, entering the center of the crown and coming out at the top.


who many years before the was became a citizen of Jackson, was born in Kentucky sixty-nine years ago. For a great while he was the senior member of the banking firm of Adams & Horn. He had also been a large planter, a large capitalist and slave owner. When the war was declared he was one of the first to volunteer, and his record as a soldier will compare with that of any man who bared his breast to shot and shell. Never was produced a better or braver soldier than General Adams. The war over he returned to the life of a civilian, engaged in planting, banking, etc. When Mr. Davis’ work was issued General Adams was complimented with the exclusive southern agency. He served as state revenue agent several years, and has been postmaster at Jackson since 1885 (or 3?).


was chosen at the last Mississippi press convention as annual orator, and the convention is to meet in Grenada on the 9th instant.

Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 5, 1888

The Adams-Martin Duel — The Unprovoked Assaults on Adams.

The attacks of the New Mississippian on General Wirt Adams, which resulted in the death of General Adams and the editor, appears to have been unprovoked as they were brutal. Major Livingston Mims says of the affair:

“I was with General Adams two weeks ago. He was then restless under the attacks of this editor. He said to me: ‘I do not want to be forced into a difficulty with him. I have no quarrel with him, and I actually avoid the public streets that I may not meet him casually and be betrayed into assaulting him.’ The family of General Adams was entirely dependent on his petty salary, and this knowledge forced him to submit day after day to the most wanton insult. I was hardly surprised that he was at last goaded into action, though unspeakably grieved. A knightlier man never lived — a loftier or finer soul. He was very rich before the 60’s, and lived like a prince, whether at his $90,00 home in New Orleans or at one of his superb plantations. He was offered the postmaster generalship of the confederacy by Mr. Davis, and equipped a full regiment from his private purse. Truly he was a king among men.

“He came of a brave and illustrious family. General Dan Adams, his brother, killed Hogan, the editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel, and the fourth editor killed in succession on that paper. Hogan wrote an article reflecting on Judge Adams, the father of Dan and Wirt. Young Dan went to Vicksburg to get a retraction. He called at the house of Duke Gwinn, the United States marshal of Mississippi, Mrs. Gwinn found what his purpose was.

“Are you armed?” she asked.

Young Adams replied that he was simply going to have a reasonable talk with Hogan and had not thought of arming himself.

“‘Little do you know the man you are about to deal with,’ said Mrs. Gwinn, and with her own hands she buckled a pistol at his waist. Adams went out and met Hogan on the street. He introduced himself and stated his mission. Hogan, as brave as a tiger and as restless, closed with him instantly and in the fight was shot and killed. The trial of Dan Adams for the killing of Hogan was one of he famous events of Mississippi history, and ended in his acquittal. With the death of Wirt Adams this splendid and dignified family becomes but a memory — but a glorious and unstained memory!”

The Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, Georgia) May 6, 1888

General Wirt Adams

An Old Mississippi Reminiscence.

To The News,

CALDWELL, Tex., May 6. — I noticed an article in to-day’s NEWS from Hon. W.J. Jones of Virginia Point, paying a tribute to the late General Wirt Adams of Mississippi, in which an error occurs. Many years ago Dr. Hagan, editor of the Vicksburg Sentinel, was killed by Daniel W. Adams, on account of a slanderous assault upon the character of his father, Judge Adams, and not by Wirt Adams as stated. Both Generals Daniel W. and Wirt Adams (brothers) were brigadiers in the confederate army. After the war General Dan W. Adams located in New York to practice law, where he died a few years thereafter. I am a native Mississippian, was well acquainted with the Adamses, and familiar with the Hagan Homicide.


Galveston Daily News (Galveston, Texas) May 7, 1888